10 PLACES TO VISIT IN HYDERABAD

Being Currently Based in Hyderabad (India) I invite a lot of people over but no one seems to really believe it’s an ideal tourist spot Until they do actually visit us ,here’s a list of places one could visit in Hyderabad and conclude that it’s actually a great vacation spot!

1. RAMOJI FILM CITY

Spend an entire day here or you could stay here over the weekend

When I first shifted to Hyderabad we decided to stay in RAMOJI to explore every nook and corner of this fantabulous weekend getaway !

A. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED : There’s a bus within Ramoji that is a ticket to explore numerous film sets including those of bollywood and tollywood blockbusters with a tad bit of interesting robotics and similar technology used here and there for shere thrill. The various stops include the sets of  the Epic: MAHABHARATHA, Airport, Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Japanese Garden, Sun fountain as many more, It’s a very unique experience and is a MUST VISIT in Hyderabad and in INDIA for that matter!

B. HAUNTED HOUSE Within Ramoji Filmcity is all Fun and exciting ! It has various Rooms with unique concepts but essentially revolving around the ‘horror’ set up, it’s worth visiting ,though located in the kids zone it is surely for people of all ages !!

C. HOLLYWOOD SHOW: It’s an excellent Live show in a black light set up with people dressed in,and props developed using fluorescent colours popping in and out of the dark  presenting a Grand Musical on Hollywood

D. The WILDWEST SHOW: As the name suggests it’s a skit based in a wildwest set up and is one of the main attractions out here cause it’s a STUNT SHOW and has a slight element of comedy as well it has various SURPRISE elements.

E. OTHER SHOWS : Including the bollywood show (DISCLAIMER: it’s always crowded and though i’ve been to ramoji around 6 times i haven’t been able figure out the secrets that lie within, you can drop me a mail about it incase you’ve been lucky enough to make it to this show) and The Spirit Of Ramoji Show where experts present a series of Dance and other entertainment

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F. TARA SITARA : These are the 2 Hotels inside ramoji, there are some Budget Hotels within ramoji too which include Shantiniketan, But Tara Sitara are the better known ones and have multi-cuisine restaurants too

G. There are many restaurants within ramoji, there’s a food court where they serve italian-oriental-mexican dishes whilst the buffet joint on the opposite side serves indian specialities, there’s hence a lot of variety

H. FOR KIDS: Ramoji is paradise for your little ones, they have many rides, game shows and magic shows for kids there’s a separate place developed specially for the children it’s a nice place even for the adults to check out as they even have provisions for RAIN DANCE , the set up is great with structures of various ZOO animals and Butterflies, caterpillars and even dinosaurs are strategically positioned for this whole area to resemble Toyland.

I. BAHUBALI SETS: For All those who’ve watched Bahubali and even for those who’ve missed it, the sets of this blockbuster film is situated in Ramoji , there’ll be a halt to allow you to explore this Massive Set, (Do Carry hats and scarves since it’s an open ground and the heat might spoil the fun)

J. SAHAS : This place is for all the ADVENTURE JUNKEES! , It’s a wonderful adventure zone having various activities like ATV , BODY ZORB FIGHT , BUNGEE EJECTION, HIGH ROPE COURSE , HUMAN FOOSEBALL , MELTDOWN , MOUNTAIN BIKING , SHOOTING , ARCHERY , PAINT BALL and many more.

K. CARNIVAL PARADES : There are GRAND carnival parades hosted by ramoji with talented dancers and acrobats performing with massive props and wonderful costumes, It’s truly a delight. This takes place in the evening time once all other shows are done for the day. It’s Ramoji’s way of thanking all the visitors and ensuring they visit again, Guess that explains why i’ve been there 6 times and still counting!

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2. SHILPARAMAM

This is a Craft Village co-existing with all the urban infrastructure of hitech city (hyderabad), it’s a wonderful place to visit and if you are born and brought up outside of India it’s a whole new experience, SHILPARAMAM has a typical indian village set up with craft shops in form of cute huts, structures of men and women dressed in traditional attire and involved in daily chores are set up in various areas giving a realistic village set up. It’s a great place to shop gorgeous hand crafted show pieces, Furniture, Garments, cutlery and other kitchen items, one may purchase exotic items like pashmina shawls and traditional jewelry whilst you enjoy the beauty of this place, the prices are negotiable and reasonable but it’ll surely get you thinking of paying for extra luggage on your flight back, after your shopping rampage. For those accompanying you who’re not interested in shopping they could enjoy a short boat ride in the pond that’s located in the heart of shilparamam and can take a nice walk appreciating the spirit of the place as various arts like puppet shows and magic shows are held at short intervals , there’s also a mini hill around which you could take a leisure walk.

3. GOLCONDA FORT : The best time to reach this massive and impressive fort is around 5:30 when the temperature is just right and there’s enough light for you to explore the place about an hour before you gather for THE SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW, not many are aware of this show, it’s a must watch ! The show narrates the history and various facts associated with the GOLCONDA FORT through the medium of sound and light it’s infotainment at its best indeed!

4. CHAR MINAR : Well, this monument is the first thing that comes to the mind of everyone who knows that the city- Hyderabad exists, It’s a monument that also serves as a mosque, it is said that this well known monument that has some elements of persian architecture was built at the very place where Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah had prayed for the eradication of the then wide spread disease -Cholera. There’s a popular market close to the charminar that has shops selling various goods like Bangles, apparels, jewelry and similar items.

5. SNOW WORLD : I would recommend this only if you don’t have a place using this concept in your city already, or if you haven’t been to any place like this before or if you have kids are young, SNOW WORLD is a place where you have some amusing things to do like a mini haunted room- LIVING DEAD, a mini rainforest themed area that’s in a dark room and an area where you have a maze with mirrors all around to add to the confusion as you find your way out, but the main attraction is the SNOW WORLD which is also the name of the main activity area out there, It’s essentially a room that accommodates around 250 people who are required to be wrapped in the winter wear that SNOW WORLD provides including overcoats, caps, gloves and boots. The room is filled with snow and Ice including food items sold in glasses made of ice, there are some fun activities and mini rides inside the room which you can use if you are left with some time to kill as most of it will be consumed in throwing snow balls at each other. In short you’ll be having a great time at snow world

6. TEMPLES : There are various temples one may visit in hyderabad my favorites ones by far are – BIRLA TEMPLE and JAGANNATH TEMPLE beyond the pleasure of meditating out here one would be enchanted by the architecture, wall sculptures ,ambience and beauty of this place.

7. HUSSEIN SAGAR LAKE : Is a huge lake at the center of which is a beautiful budhha statue one could enjoy the boating facility here and dine at any of the best restaurants out here

8. JUBILEE HILLS and BANJARA HILLS 

 I would recommend you to take a nice drive along jubilee hills and banjara hills and dine at any of the restaurants out here , there are various concept restaurants one would spot here serving various cuisines. so choose a cuisine and restaurant of your interest and enjoy the evening !

9. MRUGAVANI RESORT 

This resort is right opposite to mrugavani national park , you may visit mrugavani national park to spot some spotted deer, some birds like the peacock and some small animals like the Fox after this you may visit the mrugavani resort take a stroll and explore the place and have a buffet meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) at its restaurant.

10. THE MALLS: 

You may be tempted to visit the malls if you can’t get enough of shopping the 3 most popular malls here are 

INORBIT MALL (hitech city) 

FORUM SUJANA MALL (kukatpally)

GVK ONE MALL (banjara hills)

11. BONUS: IKEA – It is a Swedish Multinational Organization dealing in furniture, kitchen and home accessories and appliances, IKEA Launched its first outlet in INDIA on 9th of August, it has multiple storeys housing various sections of items of household needs. It has revolutionised the concept of a mall as it also houses its own food court and a special area designated for kids as well, It’s a great place to shop and hang out!!.

When you have ticked off all items in this list you’d indeed have enjoyed the spirit of hyderabad. Hope you have a great trip! 

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10 PLACES TO VISIT IN HYDERABAD

Being Currently Based in Hyderabad (India) I invite a lot of people over but no one seems to really believe it’s an ideal tourist spot Until they do actually visit us ,here’s a list of places one could visit in Hyderabad and conclude that it’s actually a great vacation spot!

1. RAMOJI FILM CITY

Spend an entire day here or you could stay here over the weekend

When I first shifted to Hyderabad we decided to stay in RAMOJI to explore every nook and corner of this fantabulous weekend getaway !

A. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED : There’s a bus within Ramoji that is a ticket to explore numerous film sets including those of bollywood and tollywood blockbusters with a tad bit of interesting robotics and similar technology used here and there for shere thrill. The various stops include the sets of  the Epic: MAHABHARATHA, Airport, Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Japanese Garden, Sun fountain as many more, It’s a very unique experience and is a MUST VISIT in Hyderabad and in INDIA for that matter!

B. HAUNTED HOUSE Within Ramoji Filmcity is all Fun and exciting ! It has various Rooms with unique concepts but essentially revolving around the ‘horror’ set up, it’s worth visiting ,though located in the kids zone it is surely for people of all ages !!

C. HOLLYWOOD SHOW: It’s an excellent Live show in a black light set up with people dressed in,and props developed using fluorescent colours popping in and out of the dark  presenting a Grand Musical on Hollywood

D. The WILDWEST SHOW: As the name suggests it’s a skit based in a wildwest set up and is one of the main attractions out here cause it’s a STUNT SHOW and has a slight element of comedy as well it has various SURPRISE elements.

E. OTHER SHOWS : Including the bollywood show (DISCLAIMER: it’s always crowded and though i’ve been to ramoji around 6 times i haven’t been able figure out the secrets that lie within, you can drop me a mail about it incase you’ve been lucky enough to make it to this show) and The Spirit Of Ramoji Show where experts present a series of Dance and other entertainment

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F. TARA SITARA : These are the 2 Hotels inside ramoji, there are some Budget Hotels within ramoji too which include Shantiniketan, But Tara Sitara are the better known ones and have multi-cuisine restaurants too

G. There are many restaurants within ramoji, there’s a food court where they serve italian-oriental-mexican dishes whilst the buffet joint on the opposite side serves indian specialities, there’s hence a lot of variety

H. FOR KIDS: Ramoji is paradise for your little ones, they have many rides, game shows and magic shows for kids there’s a separate place developed specially for the children it’s a nice place even for the adults to check out as they even have provisions for RAIN DANCE , the set up is great with structures of various ZOO animals and Butterflies, caterpillars and even dinosaurs are strategically positioned for this whole area to resemble Toyland.

I. BAHUBALI SETS: For All those who’ve watched Bahubali and even for those who’ve missed it, the sets of this blockbuster film is situated in Ramoji , there’ll be a halt to allow you to explore this Massive Set, (Do Carry hats and scarves since it’s an open ground and the heat might spoil the fun)

J. SAHAS : This place is for all the ADVENTURE JUNKEES! , It’s a wonderful adventure zone having various activities like ATV , BODY ZORB FIGHT , BUNGEE EJECTION, HIGH ROPE COURSE , HUMAN FOOSEBALL , MELTDOWN , MOUNTAIN BIKING , SHOOTING , ARCHERY , PAINT BALL and many more.

K. CARNIVAL PARADES : There are GRAND carnival parades hosted by ramoji with talented dancers and acrobats performing with massive props and wonderful costumes, It’s truly a delight. This takes place in the evening time once all other shows are done for the day. It’s Ramoji’s way of thanking all the visitors and ensuring they visit again, Guess that explains why i’ve been there 6 times and still counting!

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2. SHILPARAMAM

This is a Craft Village co-existing with all the urban infrastructure of hitech city (hyderabad), it’s a wonderful place to visit and if you are born and brought up outside of India it’s a whole new experience, SHILPARAMAM has a typical indian village set up with craft shops in form of cute huts, structures of men and women dressed in traditional attire and involved in daily chores are set up in various areas giving a realistic village set up. It’s a great place to shop gorgeous hand crafted show pieces, Furniture, Garments, cutlery and other kitchen items, one may purchase exotic items like pashmina shawls and traditional jewelry whilst you enjoy the beauty of this place, the prices are negotiable and reasonable but it’ll surely get you thinking of paying for extra luggage on your flight back, after your shopping rampage. For those accompanying you who’re not interested in shopping they could enjoy a short boat ride in the pond that’s located in the heart of shilparamam and can take a nice walk appreciating the spirit of the place as various arts like puppet shows and magic shows are held at short intervals , there’s also a mini hill around which you could take a leisure walk.

3. GOLCONDA FORT : The best time to reach this massive and impressive fort is around 5:30 when the temperature is just right and there’s enough light for you to explore the place about an hour before you gather for THE SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW, not many are aware of this show, it’s a must watch ! The show narrates the history and various facts associated with the GOLCONDA FORT through the medium of sound and light it’s infotainment at its best indeed!

4. CHAR MINAR : Well, this monument is the first thing that comes to the mind of everyone who knows that the city- Hyderabad exists, It’s a monument that also serves as a mosque, it is said that this well known monument that has some elements of persian architecture was built at the very place where Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah had prayed for the eradication of the then wide spread disease -Cholera. There’s a popular market close to the charminar that has shops selling various goods like Bangles, apparels, jewelry and similar items.

5. SNOW WORLD : I would recommend this only if you don’t have a place using this concept in your city already, or if you haven’t been to any place like this before or if you have kids are young, SNOW WORLD is a place where you have some amusing things to do like a mini haunted room- LIVING DEAD, a mini rainforest themed area that’s in a dark room and an area where you have a maze with mirrors all around to add to the confusion as you find your way out, but the main attraction is the SNOW WORLD which is also the name of the main activity area out there, It’s essentially a room that accommodates around 250 people who are required to be wrapped in the winter wear that SNOW WORLD provides including overcoats, caps, gloves and boots. The room is filled with snow and Ice including food items sold in glasses made of ice, there are some fun activities and mini rides inside the room which you can use if you are left with some time to kill as most of it will be consumed in throwing snow balls at each other. In short you’ll be having a great time at snow world

6. TEMPLES : There are various temples one may visit in hyderabad my favorites ones by far are – BIRLA TEMPLE and JAGANNATH TEMPLE beyond the pleasure of meditating out here one would be enchanted by the architecture, wall sculptures ,ambience and beauty of this place.

7. HUSSEIN SAGAR LAKE : Is a huge lake at the center of which is a beautiful budhha statue one could enjoy the boating facility here and dine at any of the best restaurants out here

8. JUBILEE HILLS and BANJARA HILLS 

 I would recommend you to take a nice drive along jubilee hills and banjara hills and dine at any of the restaurants out here , there are various concept restaurants one would spot here serving various cuisines. so choose a cuisine and restaurant of your interest and enjoy the evening !

9. MRUGAVANI RESORT 

This resort is right opposite to mrugavani national park , you may visit mrugavani national park to spot some spotted deer, some birds like the peacock and some small animals like the Fox after this you may visit the mrugavani resort take a stroll and explore the place and have a buffet meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) at its restaurant.

10. THE MALLS: 

You may be tempted to visit the malls if you can’t get enough of shopping the 3 most popular malls here are 

INORBIT MALL (hitech city) 

FORUM SUJANA MALL (kukatpally)

GVK ONE MALL (banjara hills)

11. BONUS: IKEA – It is a Swedish Multinational Organization dealing in furniture, kitchen and home accessories and appliances, IKEA Launched its first outlet in INDIA on 9th of August, it has multiple storeys housing various sections of items of household needs. It has revolutionised the concept of a mall as it also houses its own food court and a special area designated for kids as well, It’s a great place to shop and hang out!!.

When you have ticked off all items in this list you’d indeed have enjoyed the spirit of hyderabad. Hope you have a great trip! 

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UDUPI

This is especially for all the overseas subscribers of my blog

Visitors from outside of India are ideally pulled to the metro cities of India which you can’t deny have more or less a westernised infrastructure and they end up enjoying and observing the uniqueness of our beautiful nation to a limited extent

I often encourage people to visit unconventional places so that they can enjoy the true spirit of India which is symbolised by diversity in demography as well as in geography

One of my recent visits was to Udupi (Karnataka)

Udupi is a beautiful city in the state of karnataka , The proximity of Udupi to many important towns and cities is what I love about it, Mangalore airport is about an hour away from Udupi.

Here’s why you should look forward to visiting udupi:

1. AMBALPADI TEMPLE :

I spend hours here, during each of my trips to udupi. The Main Idol is carved out of the bark of a Jackfruit tree and is around 400 years old. There’s also a  Janardhana temple within the compound of the main temple. It is a peaceful place to be at and is associated with several miraculous incidents, About 25 years ago a Woman entered the temple premises with some offerings for the divine mother, but the Ambalpadi(goddess) temple inside was closed, the upset devotee sat chanting prayers for Mother and that’s when the goddess herself appeared before her to accept the offerings. This temple also hosts numerous rituals and is famous for the variety of prasadam(temple meals) offered on a banana leaf. The  temple also has a backyard garden and a pond in front of it adding to the aesthetic beauty of the place.

 

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ambalpadi

ambalpadi temple

2. MANIPAL :

Manipal is a town located very close to udupi. It has numerous educational institutions having a wide acclaim from people within and outside India. The university crowd is very cosmopolitan owing to the diversity of students coming from india and abroad. There are many fun places to hangout here with numerous restaurants and hotels surrounding this place.

a. Dollops : This is a fun food joint serving a range of cuisines to satisfy your taste buds. I recommend – Egg Plant in hot garlic sauce and their milkshakes! The rest is your choice, but it surely is a must visit.

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dollops restaurant

 

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a great place to hang out with family and friends

b. Onesta : This is Karnataka’s very own Pizza joint and is popular amongst the students in manipal, the range of calzones, pizzas, desserts and soft beverages makes it a great option for all visitors.

c. Venugopal temple: It is a famous temple in manipal. The main deity is lord krishna. The architecture of this temple is very unique the roof of the temple is a huge dome it reminds me of a butter ball. It is a must visit in manipal.

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venugopal main temple

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LORD VENUGOPALA

 

3. KARKALA :

I would strongly recommend visitors especially those from other countries to visit small towns like karkala to experience new cultures and life-styles . The central location of Udupi facilitates transport to various towns and cities. The small town of  Karkala with population of about 26000 derives its name from kari-kal that is black stone in TULU a language spoken in some parts of karnataka, it shouldn’t be surprising that black granite is unusually common in this area. Another language spoken here is KONKANI which happens to be my mother toungue ! The drive from udupi to karkala is beautiful, one comes across lush green spaces and little houses every now and then. Though we hire a car in udupi i love to take a bus ride to Karkala, it is a different experience travelling with the locals chattering in their unique mother tongue, the wind playing with your hair as you slide the window open, the fragrance of the first rain in the region and the rare interaction you have with travellers who’ve been shuttling between towns on account of employment. in karkala there are some places one could visit:

a. Venkatramana temple:

it is also known as padutirupathi temple, it’s said that if one is unable to make it to the popular pilgrimage destination-Tirupathi due to any reason one must visit this temple.

My grandmother was born and brought up within the compounds of this temple, i have a sentimental attachment to this place, it is amazing to imagine her as a little girl running around the pillars of the temple, it reminds me of the stories she told me about the beautiful carvings of grapevines and sparrows on these pillars. I recommend this place to people not because it is a unique experience for me but because it is so well maintained and peaceful inside that one may not want to leave the place for hours!

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b. Hanuman Temple : Opposite the venkatramana temple is the hanuman temple where one would fine a massive idol of lord hanuman covered with Orange sindoor, it is a small temple but the visit to karkala is incomplete without paying a visit to Lord Ram’s (a form of lord venkatramana) beloved devotee hanumantha.

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c. Gomateshwara statue : Karkala was ruled by Jain Bhairarasa Odeyars who worshipped  lord Gomateshwara, hence there is a tall statue of this saint who is said to have meditated motionless for one year in standing posture later attaining omniscience.

d. FOOD : With limited options i generally recommend dining at ‘Sagar’ it serves delicious south indian and north indian delights

e. Snacks: There are some unique snacks available in this part of south india, I would recommend picking up Banana chips , Jack fruit chips , sweet potato chips most of them fried in Coconut Oil, other items that could be taken home and later deep fried (healthy option- put it in the air fryer) include- vodi (onion/garlic fritters), potato papad, jackfruit papad and many more!

4. UDUPI KRISHNA TEMPLE :

This place is in udupi, it is a very famous temple and has some other temples around it ( eg. raghavendra swami temple) . There is a moving story behind this temple’s main idol. Kanakadasa was a devotee of lord krishna and lived in a hut in front of the gopura of the temple, he was not allowed to enter the temple on account of belonging to a lower caste and a wall separated the devotee from the deity’s idol, But one night a tremor cracked the wall and the east facing idol rotated to the west to bless his devotee, it was a wonderful lesson to one and all – Caste and status meant nothing to the lord, Devotion was all that mattered. The wall was never fixed infact a window was built in the wall to allow everyone a darshan even from outside the temple.

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5.BEACH AND OTHER FUN PLACES: There are many other places to visit in and around udupi including the Malpe beach, St. Mary’s Island, Kudu falls, Mattu beach

6. MITRA SAMAJ: This is a wonderful restaurant with a modest ambience but delicious food. It is the Birthplace of the all time favorite Masala Dosa. It’s our standard breakfast joint, we feast on their specialities: Masala Puri, Manglorian Buns, Vada Sambar, Masala Dosa, Idly and Filter coffee. It is right behind the udupi krishna temple

7. DIANA ICE CREAM : The king of Ice-creams in Udupi. It is a well known joint I have been visiting since childhood. Some of their specialities are Gadbad ice-cream, Horlicks Cake, Vegetable Cutlet, Dahi Vada. It serves yummy north indian and chinese items too ( chinese items in india could be very spicy for the residents of other countries)

You could take a flight to mangalore and drive to Udupi and the places around it, I love staying in udupi because it’s an experience very different from the usual metro-city life that i tend to lead. The list summarises the true flavour of a Udupi local’s weekends in the city. So go ahead and book your tickets !

 

AKKALKOT- Swami Samartha

I drove for an hour and a half  from Tuljapur to Akkalkot and had plans to stay in Solapur (further an hour away) that night. But i changed my plans…read on….

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The drive from Tuljapur to Akkalkot (BOTH IN MAHARASHTRA) was picturesque, there were landscaped hills and farms everywhere, a couple of ponds peeked at us from between the bushes, little huts and houses of farmers marked the presence of human life. Goats and Cows were grazing on the lush green grass and every now and then a herder would use a stick on the most mischievous of the lot as if reprimand them.

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When we reached Akkalkot we were so impressed by the little town, there were little lanes with colorful houses,  people wore traditional attire in varied colors and there were bhajans playing all around (songs sung in praise of the lord), though there were no elite hotels there was a temple Guest house that had non-a.c and a.c. rooms available if you ask me the A.C. delux and A.C. VIP DELUX are better options , We were glad to eat the Dinner offered by the temple to its devotees(fabulous lunch also available), the food was delicious later We proceeded for the Main temple where we attended the Aarti performed in front of the deity-A renowned Indian saint SWAMI SAMARTHA, the temple is a walking distance from the guest house and it’s food hall. One of the reasons why it’s a renowned temple is that the bed of swami samartha is kept here and it’s one of the places swami samartha used to be at.

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In fact a tree in the compound of the temple has projections which have taken an exact formation of the hands and feet of the deity, it’s indeed a miracle to notice the perfect formation and one can even touch the formations and ask for a wish which shall be granted.

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After an wonderful darshan we took our leave for the evening and decided to stay in akkalkot that night as it is a place very different from what we have seen before it has beautiful Sculptures of SWAMI SAMARTHA, SHIVAJI MAHARAJ and his army, we concluded our day with a lovely Kulfi (indianised version of ice-cream) available outside the guest house, In the morning we started on our way back to Hyderabad we had some Misal Pao a traditional Marathi dish from a stall outside, there are numerous stalls five steps away from the guest house offering many traditional Indian dishes for breakfast and snack time, whilst lunch and dinner are taken care of by the temple. On the way we stopped and prayed at the SAMADHI of the Indian saint, It was a Fantastic trip to the town of SWAMI SAMARTHA who would always re-assure his devotees by the words  ‘Bhiu Nakos Mee Tuzya Paathishi Aahe’ ( भिऊ नकोस, मी तुझ्या पाठीशी आहे.)  translated as ‘NEVER FEAR I’LL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU’.

 

 

 

TULJAPUR

I just returned from a great trip-Tuljapur, Most Indians are aware of the significance of this place and for the rest of you here it is!

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This picture of maa bhavani appears on mementos sold outside the temple: photography is prohibited within temple premises

This Destination in Maharashtra is of historic significance as the TULJABHAVANI TEMPLE is located here, It is believed that the goddess (MAA BHAVANI) once presented a sword to CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI MAHARAJ who was a huge devotee of MAA BHAVANI. This story motivated his troops as they were ever confident of their victory as long as they had the deity’s blessings! This blessing and the Faith of his troops coupled with Shivaji Maharaj’s leadership, Tact and intelligence has worked wonders, Shivaji led his troops to numerous victories even when they were gravely outnumbered and were faced with impossible circumstances.

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Picture of  the gate of the Temple from outside

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Offering shops outside the temple and thousands of devotees

I drove from Hyderabad(telangana) to Tuljapur(Maharashtra), it was a smooth highway and the ride was comfortable we reached tuljapur in the afternoon, bought the necessary offerings and headed straight towards the temple, the weather was great and the colorful shades of the offering stores were slow-dancing in the breeze, the whole atmosphere was so different, one could appreciate the spiritual significance of this place as thousands of devotees headed to the entrance, we opted for the PAID DARSHAN to avoid too much crowd and to See the deity from the closest permissible distance that is 10 feet( the Free darshan allows you to see the deity from a distance of 20 feet), As we stepped into the temple premises we could smell the fragrance and see the presence of Turmeric and Sindoor all around as it is a traditional hindu offering to a female deity in India, there was also a diya(lamp) where one could offer Oil, it is a good omen to ensure a diya never exhausts itself ,through continuous supply of oil and other materials. Since photography isn’t allowed within the temple one has to visit the place to see how colorful and beautiful it is inside,

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TULJABHAVANI LADOO PRASAD: traditional indian sweet available at the temple

We spent very little time in queue before we had the opportunity to be present before maa bhavani, she looked beautiful her eyes were bright and clear filled with enough compassion to sustain the whole of humanity. It was a beautiful experience to be in the same corridors, that have once had the opportunity to witness KING SHIVAJI, the pride of india,himself. As we stepped out of the temple all of us felt the urge to see the goddess once again until next time , we headed for ‘mukh darshan’ which means to see the goddess from a distance of 40 feet, it was again a short queue and we spent a whole of twenty minutes there admiring her from a distance, right behind us was the idol of her husband , Lord Bhavani Shankar we offered our prayers and left for our next destination AKKALKOT.

 

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The work on the copper plate next to the image of maa bhavani is of astrological significance

If you visit tuljapur, you could stay in solapur which has a variety of good hotels and restaurants.(TULJAPUR AND SOLAPUR are 45 kms apart)

 

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5 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN MAHABALIPURAM (+1)

On a Fine Monday morning as I was on my way from Pondicherry to the Chennai Airport, I sat in the backseat wondering  how I could make productive use of 6 hours that I had in hand before I  boarded,  I crossed a couple of options such as an unusual act of reaching the airport before time or exploring a city I had visited in the past-Chennai, as we took a stop mid-way a blessed soul recommended us to spend a few hours at MAHABALIPURAM, we were thrilled at the chance of exploring a new destination!

MAHABALIPURAM IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE WHERE ONE WOULD WITNESS NUMEROUS MONOLITHIC INDIAN ARCHITECTURAL MARVELS, IT’S LIKE AN ANCIENT CITY EXISTING IN THE MIDST OF A MODERN DAY TOWN, THE BEAUTY OF THIS PLACE LIES IN THE FACT THAT ONE SEES 7 STAR 21ST CENTURY HOTELS CO-EXISTING WITH  MAJESTIC STRUCTURES OF KINGDOMS THAT ONCE EXISTED IN 700 A.D.

1.     SHORE TEMPLE MAHABALIPURAM

The whole place is set overlooking the shore of the Bay Of Bengal, We were Refreshed by the very sight of the Beach as we strolled towards this temple ,that was built in 700-728 AD with blocks of Granite at the time of Pallava Dynasty. This has been declared as UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE as one of the group monuments at mahabalipuram. The sun shone on our Faces whilst the cool breeze from the sea brought us great respite on a hot summer afternoon. The temple was massive and people climbed huge rocks to get the right snap at this marvelous selfie spot.

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2.     PANCH RATHAS

As we sat in anticipation of what great monolithic Indian architecture we will be witnessing next, we were highly impressed by the next tourist spot- PANCHA RATHA’S or 5 chariots. mahabalipuramelephantEach of these 5 chariots are carved out of a single long stone of granite. This place is a blessing for photographers, it has 5 chariots each named after a pandava and draupadi of the MAHABHARATA.  In order of size, they include the Dharmaraja ratha,Bhima Ratha,  Arjuna Ratha, Nakula Sahadeva Ratha, and Draupadi Ratha.

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3. STHALASAYANAPERUMAL TEMPLE

Whether you are a worshipper of Vishnu or you have a different favorite Deity you are bound to appreciate the uniqueness of this temple. Located very close to the descent of ganges and the butter ball, we were lucky to have been present here during Aarti, as I mentioned before this temple is Unique because the sculpture of Vishnu in resting posture doesn’t have  NAAG Dev (snake deity) to support his head, it’s a beautiful stone idol covered with gold and other ornaments and so is the idol of his wife Lakshmi. IT’S A MUST VISIT IN MAHABALIPURAM !!

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4.     KRISHNA’S BUTTER BALL

We heard from our driver that this butter ball is a legend in itself, as the legend goes it has been in 1 place for 1200 years , despite being based on a slope ( weighing 250 tons, and having dimensions of 6m (ht), 5m(wide) and a base of 1.2 m that too on a slope! ) It  is said that the then governor ARTHUR HAVELOCK attempted to move the boulder using 7 elephants but failed, the same ensued when KING NARASIMHAVARMAN made a similar attempt. It’s a very popular tourist spot for people living in an outside of mahabalipuram and we loved it!!

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5. DESCENT OF GANGES MAHABALIPURAM

On our way to Krishna’s Butter Ball we stopped to check out a masterpiece made by sculptors out of ‘2 monolithic boulders with a cleft’, water may have flown through this cleft at some point in the past, it is a marvelous structure with great details depicting  the story of the descent of river GANGA to earth from heaven, the waters of Ganges are said to possess  special powers. It is also a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SIGHT.

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6. BONUS: MAHABALIPURAM BEACH

As a lover of the Beach, I enjoyed the tranquility of this beach, it was not very crowded when I reached here, the water was as blue as I wanted it to be, I took a stroll along the beach enjoying the cool breeze and the water playing ,catch and run ,with my feet. It was Overwhelming.

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This is how we concluded our visit to mahabalipuram it was a unique experience indeed!!

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10 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN PONDICHERRY

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I was out in Chennai for some work and had the weekend free so I decided to take a 3 hour drive to Pondicherry and stay there over the weekend.

At the beginning I was a bit upset about the fact that it has major spaces which resemble those of most of indian towns, but eventually I realised Visiting the right places, indeed made Pondicherry a wonderful tourist destination!!

  • resiboatCHUNNAMBAR BOAT HOUSE AND PARADISE BEACH :

Carry your swimming gear as It’s one of the best places to visit in Pondicherry, we hired a ferry upto Paradise Beach it’s a beautiful island beach, there’s a choice between hiring a Motor Boat and a speed boat, but my word, no matter how much speed thrills you, you’ll enjoy watching silver fish jump in and out of water and the sight of migratory birds circling in the sky and a speed boat will only paradise2shorten the duration of this experience…..on reaching Paradise beach after a 20 minute motor boat ride we indulged in  activities such as Rain Dance which they’ve arranged for visitors, swimming , one may use their  little post-swim shower facility, there are places to sit under the shade and enjoy the view of the Horizon. One little down side is that the dining facility out here is very modest and one can’t carry their own food, though water, basic soft drinks and similar chilled refreshments were  available, we spent around 2 hours out here despite shortage of time , I’m sure you’d be motivated to do better before you line up in a short queue to be ferried back to chunnambar boat houseparadise

  • AUROVILLE MATRIMANDIR (SIGHT SEEING + MEDITATION)

We started our 2 kilometer walk from the parking lot to Matri Mandir…it was one of the hottest days in Pondicherry as it was summer and we were asking every person on their way back just one question “how long is it from here?” wishing some miracle would alter the distance for us but we had some Positive Distractions that completely took our minds matrimandirballoff the heat and sweat…and the distraction for a foodie ,out here, are 2 wonderful Cafés….they offered a variety of stuff right from cakes, pastries, to puffs, samosas and sandwiches, if you’re lucky enough to make it at lunch time or 7pm onwards you can choose from a variety of dishes like pizza’s and many north Indian items, salads and the list goes on.

Further along the road we had few more pleasant distractions such as PLACES TO SHOP, There is a Departmental store selling items produced at Auroville right from Eatables like jams and drink concentrate, chocolates to Capsules containing essential herbs of nature and amongst other categories they sell Garments, Lampshades, Cosmetics, Purses and so on…we bought most of what I mentioned!There’s also a garment boutique matriwalkopposite the store…There’s a Video Room explaining the significance of this beautiful place..From here we resume our wonderful Nature Walk upto Matri Mandir, which is a huge sphere surrounded by 12 petals, it’s essentially a dome covered by golden discs reflecting sunlight, the INNER CHAMBER consists of a meditation hall and an optically perfect glass globe that’s supposed to be the largest of its kind in the world, open to public by appointment. Surrounding it is a peaceful open ground which is a perfect selfie spot to click pics with the dome and you’re damn right it’s one of the reasons I need a new memory card!…we spent in all 3 hours at this peaceful and blissful location.

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  • SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM

Another place of spiritual significance is Sri Aurobindo Ashram we were ushered in by few disciples everyone was requested to maintain silence at all times within the ashram,It was a Wonderful and Peaceful space with flowering plants and shade-giving trees all around the courtyard, there was no commotion, no chit chat, All cellphones were switched off and every single soul was elated by Rarest of Rare experience of Peace….we placed our foreheads on the Marble Samadhi under which lie the physical remains of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, one could feel a divine vibe at that very moment when one’s forehead touched the marble shrine. It is a wonderful Experience in itself and a must visit spot for people of all generations.

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  • PROMENADE BEACH

It’s a wonderful walk along the raised artificial banks of the beach…Promenade is a French word for ‘walk’….and when in Pondicherry do as the French do, hence take a Walk along this beach and Dine at any of the many Restaurants out here….We dined at ‘Sicily’s’ it was good… in fact their CHOCOLATE FLAN was the best I’ve had yet!!walk2ahatma Mahatma Gandhi Statue and Statue of dupleix..The statue of the father of our nation and that of French governer Dupleix are a stone’s throw away from each other it’s one of the treats to your eyes when you stroll along the promenade beach!

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  • SERENITY BEACH

A fantastic beach with numerous colorful boats on shore, offering hence the best opportunity for a photoshoot, these boats belong to fishermen who live close to the beach, We enjoyed the water and the Mesmerizing view, we loved watching the sunset out here, the orange life sustaining ball looked its best as it sank in the refreshingly blue water body marking the end of another wonderful day in Pondicherry.img_20180603_175507_hdr.jpg

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  • Lighthouse

We saw 2 light houses in Pondicherry one is the Old lighthouse that can be seen whilst we jogged along the promenade beach, the other is the new lighthouse which is much higher I suppose, we chose to see both but from a the ground level itself, given more time I would’ve chosen to check them both out!! We got great pics anyway!!

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  • Manakula Vinayagar Temple

    This is a beautiful temple, I fell in love with how colorful this place was, it’s architecture is representative of most of those found in South Indian especially Tamil Nadu, hailing from north I was captivated by every single painting and wall sculptures of this magnificent temple which Is 5 steps away from Aurobindo Ashram.

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  • The Basilica of Sacred Heart Of Jesus

We could make it to the Sunday mass at this beautiful Church with a gothic architecture, as everyone sat silently in prayer I couldn’t help but keep spinning my head in admiration of the numerous colorful glass pictures of saints and some of those depicting the life of Jesus…the church is very close to promenade beach.jesus

  • Café Xtasi

This place may look like a medium sized ordinary restaurant but the pizza’s served here are beyond ordinary! A huge variety of Veg and Non veg pizza’s are available in all sizes !!Sizes range from ones that may be shared by 3 or by 8-10 members, the flavours are highly unique and The taste is out of the world, the pastas are delicious and it’s a must visit in Pondicherry!!!!

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  • ousteriOusteri Lake

We Surprisingly had some extra time on hand at the end our trip that’s when we decided to drive to Ousteri Lake which is on the outskirts of Pondicherry and like a picnic spot for many families, we enjoyed the view out here. The areas in and around the lake,  house many migratory birds including the painted stork, one could use a boat ride to appreciate the beauty of this water body and the birds that fly around you.